MAE 124/ESYS 103:   The Human Earth

Spring 2006 Schedule

Week 1: Fundamentals of sustainable economic activity
Reading/class preparation:
  1. Complete the ``Ecological Footprint Quiz'' at   In the quiz results, take note of your "total footprint" and of the number of acres in each category. What are the largest contributions to your footprint? According to this quiz, what actions would reduce your footprint?
  2. Dorf, Ch. 1;
  3. Rosenfeld et al, Energy Efficiency and Climate Change, reprint from Encyclopedia of Energy, Vol. 2, pp. 373-382, Elsevier Press, 2004. 
April 4: Introduction to the course.  Handouts: syllabus, survey   Graphics: lecture1a.pdf (For most acrobat versions, ctrl-L toggles to and from full screen mode.)
April 6: Sustainability, capital, carrying capacity. Graphics: lecture2a.pdf
April 7:  Discussion focus:  ecological footprints and the reading.  (Discussion questions)
Week 2.  Background: economics, business, and the environment.
Reading/class preparation:
  1. Cummins, ``Gimme an Oil Change'', Alternatives: Resources for Cultural Creativity, Fall, 2004 (Optional see also: Le Coz, ``Fry fuel: McDonalds franchisee runs cars on it'',, March, 2006)
  2. Cascio, ``Taxes, credits and going carbon negative'',, 2005
  3. Hopkin, ``Tree planting not always green'', Nature News, 2005
  4. Dorf, Ch. 2-3;
April 11:  Population, sustainability, economics, tragedy of the commons, Kyoto Protocol, cost benefits. Graphics: lecture3a.pdf
April 13:  Business and engineering for the environment. Paper 1 assigned. Graphics: lecture4a.pdf
April 14:  Discussion focus: Green actions that individuals take. (Discussion questions)    Optional: Lovejoy lecture on Sustainability, 10-11:30
Week 3:  Design for Environment
Reading/class preparation:
  1. Portnoy, Benefit-Cost Analysis, Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.
  2. EPA Fact Sheet, Regulatory Announcement: EPA Proposes New Test Methods for Fuel Economy Window Stickers.   If you're curious, more detail about the EPA regulation proposal is available from
  3. Probst, Combating Global Warming One Car at a Time: CO2 Emissions Labels for New Motor Vehicles
  4. Dorf, Ch. 4;
April 18:  Role of technology and engineering, side effects and revenge effects, green revolution, appropriate technology. Graphics: lecture5a.pdf
April 20:  Design for environment, cleaner products, cleaner processes, sustainable resource use. Graphics: lecture6a.pdf
April 21:  Discussion focus: Environmental problems, regulation, and costs of regulation.  (Discussion questions.)
Week 4:  Life Cycle Assessment
Reading/class preparation:
  1. Life Cycle Assessment 101 EPA Document.
  2. The Olympic stadium analysed using the DPWS tool. Environment Australia Case Study
  3. Dorf, Ch. 5 (sections 5.1 to 5.9, pp. 109-146), Ch. 6 (sections 6.1 to 6.3, pp. 159-163), Ch. 8 (note Ch. 8 discusses cost-benefit analysis and government regulation and may be useful as you write your papers).
April 25:  Design for environment. Conceptual and simplified Life Cycle Assessment. Graphics: lecture7a.pdf
April 27:  Detailed Life Cycle Assessment. Graphics: lecture8.pdf. Paper 1 due (at 12:01 am via See this for instructions.)
April 28:   Discussion focus: Life cycle assessment (example: Sydney Olympic Stadium). (Discussion questions.)

Week 5:  Energy (Conventional Sources)

Reading/class preparation:
  1. Weisz, Basic Choices and Constraints on Long-Term Energy Supplies, Physics Today, July 2004, p. 47.
  2. Dorf, Ch. 9-13.
May 2:   Energy: Current Usage, Efficiency, Peak Oil. Graphics: lecture9a.pdf
May 4:  Energy: Fossil Fuels. Graphics: lecture10a.pdf
May 5:  Midterm review. (Handout and discussion questions/notes.)
Week 6:  Energy (More Fossil Fuels, Electricity, Renewables)
Reading/class preparation:
  1. Davidson, Off the grid or no, solar and wind power gain, USA Today, 12 April 2006.
  2. PUC Creates Groundbreaking Solar Energy Program, State of California press release, 12 January 2006. Optional: see also California PUC Approves Nation's Biggest Solar Program Solar Energy Industries Association press release,
  3. CPUC approves SDG&E contract for solar power, San Diego Gas & Electric, press release, 20 December 2005.
  4. Dorf, Ch. 14-16.
May 9:  Energy: natural gas, electricity, nuclear power. Graphics: lecture11a.pdf
May 11:  Midterm (in class).  Paper 2 assigned.
May 12:  Discussion focus: Renewable energy. (Discussion questions.)

Week 7:  Energy (Renewables), Transportation Systems

Reading/class preparation:
  1. Curitiba, Brazil: Three decades of thoughtful city planning,,
  2. McKibben, Curitiba: A Global Model For Development,, 8 November 2005.
  3. Dorf, Ch. 20-21.
May 16:  Renewable Energy: Biofuels, Hydro, Geothermal, Wind, Solar.  Graphics: lecture12a.pdf
May 18:  Transportation Systems.  Graphics: lecture13a.pdf
May 19:  Discussion focus: Transportation planning. (Discussion questions.)

Week 8:  Transportation

Reading/class preparation:
  1. Spath and Mann, Life Cycle Assessment of Hydrogen Production via Natural Gas Steam Reforming, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Technical Report, NREL/TP-570-27637, Februay, 2001. (from You may also be interested in their Life Cycle Assessment of Renewable Hydrogen Production via Wind/Electrolysis.)
    Note: The assigned pdf file has a bug that may make it unreadable with some versions of Acrobat reader. If you have trouble with it you may do one of the following: (a) try printing it anyway, (b) use "preview" (e.g. on a Mac) or another utility to view it instead, (c) try this alternate version: week8.pdf), or (d) pick up a photocopy from Sunil Purushotham, EBU II 573.
  2. Dorf, Ch. 22.
May 23:  Transportation; Improving on Internal Combustion Graphics: lecture14a.pdf
May 25:  Hybrids, Natural Gas, and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Graphics: lecture15a.pdf
May 26:   Discussion focus: life cycle assessment in the context of paper 2 (Discussion questions.)
Week 9:  Buildings and Land Use
Reading/class preparation:
  1. Dick, Gregory, "Green Building Basics", California Integrated Waste Management Board, 2006.
  2. California Performance Review, "Streamline the Environmental Review Process to Discourage Sprawl and Revitalize Older Developed Urban Areas", Volume 4, Ch. 4, Infrastructure, Recommendation 37, 2005.
  3. Dorf, Ch. 25.
May 30:  Guest lecture: Prof. Paul Linden on Energy Efficient Buildings. Powerpoint slides
June 1:  Buildings, land use, zoning. Graphics: lecture16a.pdf. Paper 2 due.
June 2:  Discussion focus: land-use planning, in-fill, and multi-use development.  (Discussion questions.)
Week 10: 
Reading/class preparation:
  1. Markeis, Water Fights: How drought is changing the American West, US News and World Report, 19 May 2003.
  2. Anderson, The Economics of Water in the West, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 12 July 2004.
  3. Dorf, Ch. 17-18.
June 6:  Water. Graphics: lecture17a.pdf
June 8:  Water and meat; air pollution; actions for the future. lecture18a.pdf
June 9:  Exam review.   (Discussion questions.)
final exam:  Thursday, June 15, 8-11 am, cumulative